The United States wants to be better able to protect itself from possible enemy missile attacks. President Donald Trump presented a new strategy for this purpose. Oliver Thränert is a security policy specialist and explains what it means.
ETH security expert Zurich
The security policy specialist directs the expert group of the ETH Zurich Center for Safety Studies. From 2001 to 2012, Thränert worked for the German Science and Policy Foundation.
SRF News: Since Ronald Reagan, US governments have repeatedly staged missile shields. What's new about Trump's government plans?
Oliver Thränert: there are two new aspects. Firstly, compared to the Obama administration plans, it is no longer just a matter of focusing on protection against states such as Iran or North Korea. These countries have relatively small contingents of missiles. Secondly, the Trump administration wants to be better able to protect itself from the larger states. States like Russia and China have greater potential for rockets.
The Trump administration is able to intercept enemy missiles in advance, both before and immediately after departure.
However, this is not about setting up missile defense to prepare for a major war. The United States wants to be able to better protect the protection of its armed forces and its population through missile defense in regional scenarios, for example in a confrontation with China in Taiwan or between NATO and Russia on the Baltic States.
"Rogue regimes" around the world have constantly expanded their arsenals, especially in the area of long-range missiles, Donald Trump said. It's true?
Yes, it is. The most striking example is North Korea. The country is obviously ready to build and deploy intercontinental missiles. Iran is also continuing its missile programs. Other states are also able to develop such systems based on the originally Soviet technology so that they can be launched over long distances.
The United States is already testing the distribution of sensors in space. What do you have to imagine?
The Trump administration is in charge of being able to intercept enemy missiles as soon as possible, both before and at the start or immediately after departure, not just in the so-called final approach phase. For this purpose, we would like to use new laser systems. The prerequisite for this is to be able to determine with a sophisticated global sensor system in which rocket launches have taken place or are imminent. There you have to use space-based satellites, which are equipped with appropriate sensors.
Despite all the polarizations in US society, missile defense enjoys broad support from both Democrats and Republicans.
The United States is not the only great military power. Is starting a new phase of the global arms race?
Yes, but this is not causally related to missile defense. We are dealing with competition between major powers, particularly the United States, Russia and China. All states have nuclear weapons and missiles. The issue of deterrence therefore plays an important role. In this context, it is now about missile defense. Now he is brought to the fore by the Trump administration. But despite all the polarization in US society, the missile defense issue basically enjoys broad support from both Democrats and Republicans.
The interview was conducted by Joël Hafner.